Tyre Burst: A Driver’s Nightmare

If we ask you to imagine all the beautiful thoughts for your highway trip to Manali or Goa or Ladakh, what all would you imagine? Maybe, enjoying the drive with friends or family, taking halts at the delicious desi dhabas, driving at OMG speeds, group selfies at some exotic locations and much more. Everything ending on a positive note!

Well, exotic and pleasing is what we all imagine and pray for, however, some surprises during our long trips might turn out to be the most challenging ones and yes, some could even result in near death experiences. Nothing contradictory to your ‘long drive’ thoughts and zeal, but that’s the reality of our country highways.

However, we truly appreciate the incredible efforts by the “Ministry of Road Transport and Highways” to turn those bouncy tracks into the safest and smoothest ones but the fact is, still the daily road accident count remains high.

Quoting figures to take seriously, “In 2014, a total of 9,748 accidents occurred in the Indian subcontinent due to tyre bursts that killed 3,031 people in total and injured 9,081.” Yes, Tyre Bursts or Tyre Blowouts, one of the major reasons of casualties on the domestic highways.

So, do we have a base subject to talk? Certainly yes, it is ‘tyre bursts’, its causes, preventive measures and knowing how to handle them. We, the drivers, let’s peep in now and know in detail what’s all that you must know about tyre blowouts.

What is a tyre blowout?

We all know it, right from a layman who rides a bicycle to a big shot who drives a Porsche. Everyone is familiar with what a tyre blowout is, however technically, a tyre burst is a rapid loss of inflation pressure from a pneumatic (air-filled) tyre that leads to an explosion.

Hopefully, it’s not too technical!

Now coming on the technical aspect, it usually occurs when a tyre encounters an object, say a pothole that cuts or tears your vehicle tyre’s structural components at a particular point where it is unable to contain the pressurised air, thus escaping the pressurised air by adding further tear through the tyre construction.

 

What causes tyres to blowout?

Perhaps it has always been an underrated query in the Indian auto-industry which in the actual sense should be explained to every car, bike or commercial vehicle owner. The fact of the matter is that there are many reasons due to which a vehicle tyre can burst and therefore, we thought why we shouldn’t pen them down for you.

1) High Speed –

Over-speeding than your tyre can bear is one of the major reasons for tyre bursts. Hence, it is always advisable to once ask the tyre supplier for the tyre’s speed limit. Or the best you can do is, finding out yourself the tyre’s speed limit.

So how to do that? Well, it is definitely not a rocket science. To check it, you will have to read your tyre sidewall markings which look like “205/55R/16 91V”. You just have to check for the ending alphabet (The Tyre Speed Symbol) of your tyre sidewall marking, which in the above case is alphabet “V”, the last character of “205/55R/16 91V”. Now crosscheck the ending alphabet of your car tyre and refer the below table to know its speed limit.

 

Speed Symbol Alphabet Tyre Characteristics
 When Speed Symbol is “N” For vehicles that have speed capability not exceeding 140 Km/h
 When Speed Symbol is “P” For vehicles that have speed capability not exceeding 150 Km/h
 When Speed Symbol is “Q” For vehicles that have speed capability not exceeding 160 Km/h
 When Speed Symbol is “R” For vehicles that have speed capability not exceeding 170 Km/h
 When Speed Symbol is “S” For vehicles that have speed capability not exceeding 180 Km/h
 When Speed Symbol is “T” For vehicles that have speed capability not exceeding 190 Km/h
 When Speed Symbol is “U” For vehicles that have speed capability not exceeding 200 Km/h
 When Speed Symbol is “H” For vehicles that have speed capability not exceeding 210 Km/h
 When Speed Symbol is “V” For vehicles that have speed capability not exceeding 240 Km/h
 When Speed Symbol is “W” For vehicles that have speed capability not exceeding 270 Km/h
 When Speed Symbol is “Y” For vehicles that have speed capability not exceeding 300 Km/h
 When Speed Category is “VR” For vehicles that have speed capability over 210 Km/h (For e.g.
195/50 VR 15)
 When Speed Category is “ZR” For vehicles that have speed capability over 240 Km/h (For e.g.
205/40 ZR 17)
When ZR+ Speed Symbol is “W” Tyres marked with both “ZR” & “W” is meant for vehicles that
have speed capability of over 240 Km/h but up to 270 Km/h
When ZR+ Speed Symbol is “Y” Tyres marked with both “ZR” & “Y” is meant for vehicles that
have speed capability of over 240 Km/h but up to 300 Km/h

 

2) Second Hand Tyres – While buying a commodity, people often have a tendency to look for cheaper or alternate options, basically a jugaad for everything. And believe us, when it comes to buying tyres, the domestic tyre industry is no exception. We have heard of cases wherein even BMW owners have asked tyre suppliers for used tyres. We don’t say that it’s wrong, but we would definitely say that it is too dangerous. Used tyres usually have crossed half of their total lifetime, or maybe more and such tyres are not at all dependable. After 3 years of fitment, tyres should be checked annually and it is advisable to change them when the tyre tread is equal to the tread wear indicator level. For your convenience, we have displayed the tread wear indicator in the image below. Once your tyre tread reaches to the tread wear indicator level, the tyre’s gripping and water dispersing ability are lost, therefore, make sure that your vehicle tyres never lose its grip. If it happens, change the tyres.

Tyre tread depth check

 

3) High Temperatures – This is another big reason that causes tyre blowouts. Tyres run at high temperature lose the solidity and are more prone to pressurised air explosion. Driving a vehicle at high speeds, under-inflation, using tyres beyond tread limit and driving in sweaty summers are some of the reasons that heat tyres both from the inside as well as outside and lead to tyre bursting.

 

4) Stunts – It might sound funny but stunts like burnout, wheelie or drifting are same like punching knuckles again and again on a boxer’s face. If a boxer is punched badly on his face by his opponent, there are chances that he might lose his face charisma or his tooth/teeth or in the worst case his life. Apply the same common theory to the tyres that are installed in your vehicle. What would happen if you do stunts? The tyres will wear faster or in the worst case would result in a blowout. Therefore, Show some mercy! Say ‘No’ to stunts and if your see somebody doing this, kindly make him aware of the fact that mother earth is practically a stronger opponent. “Be humble while driving”.

 

5) Under-inflated or Over-inflated tyres – Studies say that around 75 percent of tyre bursts are caused due to under-inflated or over-inflated tyres. An under-inflated tyre suffers from excessive flexing and thus results in over-heating. Always make sure that you check the tyre pressure of your vehicle before leaving for a long trip. To add on, check the tyre pressure before the vehicle is run more than 5 kilometres, i.e. when the tyres are cold. Moreover, spend some bucks on buying a high-quality air pressure gauge as sometimes, the petrol pump readings might be inaccurate.

 

6) Tyre Collision – One of the major reasons of tyre blowouts is tyre collision with an object. If unfortunately, you are driving on the most pathetic country roads and all of a sudden you encounter a crater like pothole then there is a high chance that the tyre impact caused with the pothole could cut or tear the tyre’s structural components at a particular point where the pressurized air could not be contained, thus resulting in a blowout.

 

7) Installation without technical know-how – Sometimes, we think we are inborn gurus and this falsehood leads to installing tyres without technical know-how, upsizing them without accurate upsizing calculations and thus, creating high possibilities of tyre bursts.

 

Stay tuned to know more!

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